Now, whether that term takes you back to a simpler possibly?
Search engine results pages (SERPs) would be the mountains we are attempting to climb as SEOs to reach the summit (number one position). However, these mountains are not just for climbing — there are many”nuggets” of information to be mined from the SERPs which could help us on our journey to the mountaintop.
Earning page one positions is difficult — to construct optimized pages that can rank, you need comprehensive Search Engine Optimization strategy that includes:
- Content audits
- Keyword research
- Competitive analysis
- Technical SEO audits
- Projections and forecasting
- Niche and audience research
- Content ideation and production
- Knowledge and an understanding of your own (or your customer’s ) website’s history
- And much more.
A ton of work and research goes into successful SEO.Luckily, much of this information could be gleaned in the SERPs you’re targeting, which will then inform your plan and help you make better choices.
The three main areas of research that SERP analysis can benefit are:
- Keyword research
- Content production
- And competitive analysis.
So, get your pickaxe handy (or perhaps only a notebook?) Because we are going to learn how to mine the SERPs for SEO gold!
Finding Keyword Research Nuggets
Any sound search engine optimization strategy is developed on sound keyword research. Without keyword research, you are just blindly generating pages and trusting Google ranks them. While we do not fully understand or understand every sign in Google’s search algorithm — I am pretty certain your”hopes” are not among these — you need keyword research to comprehend the opportunities as they exist.
And you will find some huge nuggets of information right in the search results!
- SERPs which have sitelinks have a 12.7% increase in CTR, above average.
- Position one in a SERP with a featured snippet includes a 5.2% lower CTR than ordinary.
- Position one in SERPs that feature an understanding panel see an 11.8% dip in CTR, under average.
- SERPs with Google Shopping advertisements have the worst CTR: 14.8% below average.
SISTRIX found that overall, the more SERP elements present, the lower the CTR for the top organic place.
This can be valuable information to discover during keyword research, especially if you’re trying to find opportunities which may bring organic traffic relatively fast. For these opportunities, you will want to explore more competitive keywords and phrases, since the SISTRIX report suggests that these long-tail phrases have a larger proportion of”purely organic SERPs (e.g. ten blue links).
According to what we know today, we can quickly assess our possible CTR for”can I use a sluice box in California?” Although featured snippets lower CTR for different effects, there’s the chance to rank in the snippet, and the”gold panning equipment” SERP features shopping advertisements that have the maximum negative impact (-14.8%) on CTR.
Of course, CTR isn’t the only determining factor in how much traffic you’d potentially receive from ranking, as search volume also plays a role. Our example “can I use a sluice box in California?” has little to no search volume, so while the opportunity for click-throughs is high, there aren’t many searching this term and ranking wouldn’t bring much organic traffic — but if you’re a business that sells sluice boxes in California, this is absolutely a SERP where you should rank.
Keyword research sets the stage for any SEO campaign, and by mining existing SERPs, you can gain information that will guide the execution of your research.
Mining Content Creation Nuggets
Of course, keyword research is only useful if you leverage it to create the right content. Fortunately, we can find big, glittering nuggets of content creation gold in the SERPs, too!
One the main bits of information from examining SERPs is which types of content are ranking — and since you want to rank there, too, this information is useful for your own page creation.
For example, if the SERP has a featured snippet, you know that Google wants to answer the query in a quick, succinct manner for searchers — do this on your page. Video results appearing on the SERP? You should probably include a video on your page if you want to rank there too. Image carousel at the top? Consider what images might be associated with your page and how they would be displayed.
You can also review the ranking pages to gain insight into what formats are performing well in that SERP. Are the ranking pages mostly guides? Comparison posts? FAQs or forums? News articles or interviews? Infographics? If you can identify a trend in format, you’ve already got a good idea of how you should structure (or re-structure) your page.
Some SERPs may serve multiple intents and display a mixture of the above types of pages. In these instances, consider which intent you want your page to serve and focus on the ranking page that serves that intent to glean content creation ideas.
Extracting Competitive Analysis Nuggets
With an understanding of the keywords and content types associated with your target SERP, you’re well on your way to staking your claim on the first page. Now it’s time to analyze the competition.
A quick glance at the SERP will quickly give you an idea of competition level and potential keyword difficulty. Look at the domains you see — are there recognizable brands? As a small or new e-commerce site, you can quickly toss out any keywords that have SERPs littered with pages from Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart. Conversely, if you see your direct competitors ranking and no large brands, you’ve likely found a good keyword set to target. Of course, you may come across SERPs that have major brands ranking along with your competitor — if your competitor is ranking there, it means you have a shot, too!
But this is just the surface SERP silt (say that five times fast). You need to mine a bit deeper to reach the big, golden competitive nuggets.
The next step is to click through to the pages and analyze them based on a variety of factors, including (in no particular order):
- Page speed
- Visual aesthetics
- Timeliness and recency
- Readability and construction
- Quantity and quality of citations
- Length of coverage of related subject
- How well the page matches search intent
If this page is lacking in any, many, or all these areas, there’s a strong opportunity that your page can become the better outcome, and rank.
You should also review how many backlinks ranking pages have, to get an idea for the range of links you need to reach to be competitive. In addition, review the number of referring domains for each ranking domain — while you’re competing on a page-to-page level in the SERP, there’s no doubt that pages on more authoritative domains will benefit from that authority.
However, if you find a page that’s ranking from a relatively unknown or new site, and it has a substantial amount of backlinks, that’s likely why it’s ranking, and earning a similar amount of links will give your page a good chance to rank as well.
Lastly, take the time to dive into your competitor’s ranking pages (if they’re there). Examine their messaging and study how they’re talking to your shared audience to identify areas where your copy is suboptimal or completely missing the mark. Remember, these pages are ranking on page one, so they must be resonating in some way
Successful SEO requires thorough research and analysis from a variety of sources. However, much of what you need can be found in the very SERPs for which you’re trying to rank. After all, you need to understand why the pages that rank are performing if you want your pages to appear there, too.
These SERPs are full of helpful takeaways in terms of:-
- Keyword research and evaluation
- Content ideation and plan
- And competitive analysis and review.
These golden nuggets are only there for the takin’ and you do not need any tools besides Google and your analytical mind — well, along with your metaphorical pickaxe.